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Address by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism


New York, 29 September 2015.

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Mr President, (Prime Minister al Abadi), Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, 

Let me begin by thanking the United States for its leadership in countering ISIL. 

The efforts of the Coalition to defeat ISIL must be complemented by solutions to the underlying political problems in Syria and Iraq. 

In Syria, the root causes of the civil war and ISIL are political. A durable solution needs to rest on a political settlement. It is crucial that the UN efforts to find a peaceful solution are firmly backed by the international community. Let me be clear: in view of the unspeakable atrocities the Assad regime has committed, it cannot be a partner in the struggle against ISIL. 

The immediate humanitarian needs in and around Syria are immense. Sweden is doing its share with 230 million US dollars in humanitarian support, including to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. But more is needed. I commend Kuwait for its humanitarian leadership in this regard. 

Just as in Syria, Iraq’s difficulties can only be overcome by political means. Military and stabilisation efforts in Iraq must be underpinned by an inclusive political process of national reconciliation. Prime Minister al Abadi has taken bold steps in this direction. The international community must support him. 

In addition to Sweden’s extensive assistance, and military training in northern Iraq, I am pleased to announce today that it is my Government’s intention to make a substantial contribution of 4 million US dollars to the UNDP Stabilisation Fund for Iraq. My country’s commitment to Iraq is strong - bolstered by the special relation we have with 2% of Sweden’s population having roots in Iraq. 

We need effective tools to prevent radicalisation. Democracy, human rights and equality are crucial components. Civil society organisations, religious leaders, social workers and teachers are examples of those who can make a difference on the ground. My Government recently adopted a national counter-terrorism strategy, with a special focus on prevention of radicalisation and recruitment.

The widespread and systematic brutality of ISIL and other groups, such as Boko Haram, against women and children is unacceptable. Gender equality is fundamental in preventing violent extremism in the long run. We need to find ways to enhance the role of women in countering violent extremism and terrorism. Sweden is ready to be part of such efforts. 

Thank you.